Olentangy Orange football coach Zebb Schroeder thinks a 21-point loss to Pickerington North three weeks ago might have provided his team the perfect chance to refocus.
The Pioneers appear to have done just that, outscoring their past two opponents 86-3. Westerville North, the team to which they will play host Friday, Oct. 4, in the OCC-Buckeye Division opener, hopes a 28-20 win at Franklin Heights on Sept. 27 will provide a perfect springboard into league play.
Orange comes in at 4-1 after a 52-0 rout of visiting Westland on Sept. 27. Spencer Hawkins completed 11 of 16 passes for 259 yards and four touchdowns, three of which were to Caden Konczak, who caught six passes for 120 yards.
"Spencer probably played his best game (Sept. 27). He stood in the pocket and delivered the ball even if he knew he was going to get hit," said Schroeder, whose team lost to Pickerington North 38-17 on Sept. 13 but bounced back to beat Big Walnut 34-3 on Sept. 20 before defeating Westland. "We've had a recommitment since we lost. We've executed really well and run to the football."
Westerville North used its running game to edge Franklin Heights, as Maximus Plaxico rushed for 198 yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries and Sylvester Bockarie added nine carries for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
"We still made mistakes, but we played through them and got a win. It was good for the kids to see that," said Warriors coach Bryan Johnson, whose team is 1-4. "We gave up a long play but other than that, we flew to the ball. We needed to get some momentum heading into the rest of the schedule. Our league is tough."
North is trying to break a 23-game losing streak in league play dating to the 2014 season, including all 15 games they have played in the OCC-Buckeye the past three years.
Orange shared the OCC-Buckeye championship with Olentangy and Olentangy Liberty last year as all three teams went 4-1.
"I like (Plaxico). He's a hard runner and they have a well-balanced offense overall," Schroeder said. "(Quarterback Wyatt Buxton) is pretty solid and he knows what his coach wants him to do. They do nice things from a run-pass option standpoint. Defensively, they run well to the football."